This is the camp at the corner of 10th Avenue SW and 17th Street SW near Buckerfield’s where a man died in a fire that consumed a makeshift home in the early hours of Thursday, March 5. Although friends say Vinny Larson was the man killed, police say a positive identifcation will have to be completed medically. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

‘Don’t judge a person’ says friend of Salmon Arm man who died in fire

RCMP, BC Coroners Service investigating fatal explosion at camp

Intelligent. Generous. Good.  

Those were the words that came up repeatedly when friends of the man killed in a fire in Salmon Arm on March 5 spoke about him over the weekend.

Staff Sgt. Scott West reported on Monday, March 9 that a positive identification must still be made via medical means, but friends say the man killed in the fire was Vincent (Vinny) Larson.

At the site of the fire, a small memorial with flowers and stuffed animals includes a sign: “RIP Vinny.”

West also stated that a “possible next of kin” has been notified.

Fire crews were called to the fire at the corner of 10th Avenue SW and 17 Street SW near Buckerfield’s about 5 a.m. Thursday, where they found a makeshift home in an outdoor camp fully engulfed in flames.

After the fire was extinguished, a search was conducted and the deceased individual was located.

Witnesses reported hearing explosions, likely due to propane tanks and fuel containers at the scene.

“At this time criminality is not suspected in the man’s sudden death…” police said in a news release March 5. The investigation is still ongoing, West said Monday.

Greg Webber, who is also without a home, was a friend of Vinny Larson for the past three years. He said Larson, who he thinks was 54, was very generous and very smart, able to fix or build anything.

Another couple of friends who didn’t want to be named said his latest project was a solar generator.

Read more: Fire at homeless camp leaves one dead

Read more: Five years ago, homeless man ‘had everything’

Larson was opinionated and outspoken, Webber said, but able to do the things he claimed he could do.

He was incredible, really. If you looked at him, you wouldn’t think he was. You’d think he was full of hot air when he talked, but then he’d do it. Anything he told me he could do, I’ve seen him do it.”

He also helped a lot of people.

Webber said Larson used to have a lot of money but had been homeless for about a year and a half. He said Larson wished he had a better relationship with his parents.

Larson didn’t drink but would use drugs, he said. Although he sometimes had sores on his face, Larson said those were from an infection, MRSA, that he picked up at a Vancouver hospital.

“He had a very bad problem with MRSA… It was gross, really gross. Medication is expensive but he did everything he could. He paid more attention to that than anything else.”

Bobby Rousseau, another man who is homeless, also spoke highly of Larson.

“I was pretty devastated when I found this out…,” he said. “He was a good man. He was really well liked – a lot of people liked him.”

He had been facing legal charges and part of the bail was to have a curfew check. So police would check his camp to make sure he was home.

He called it ‘bush arrest,’ Rousseau said. “He was really funny.”

Larson was going to move to Skimikin in an RV and Rousseau was going to stay with him.

“He built this little shack. He was a really good carpenter. He had heat, he had power.”

Webber said he believes the fire was an accident, a horrible mistake.

What would he like to say to people about Larson?

“Don’t judge a person. He was a very good guy.”

A short memorial will be held for Vinny Larson on Wednesday, March 11 at 11 a.m. at the Salvation Army church, 191 Second Ave. NE.



marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

HomelessSalmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon Fire Rescue Services is working to snuff a structure fire at 32nd Street and 39th Avenue Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (Facebook)
Structure fire in Vernon

Alternating traffic in effect at 32nd Street

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the emergency response centre operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
LETTER: Turning Points director applauds staff after electrical fire in Vernon

‘Our staff went above and beyond for our clients… but this is nothing new,’ says executive director

Vernon product Quinn Jones, better known as Jaq Havoq, released his sophomore album Mood Swings ahead of fall 2020. (Contributed)
Vernon product drops sophomore album

Jaq Havoq examines love, heartache and depression in Mood Swings

Vernon once again boasts the lowest gas prices in B.C. Oct. 20, 2020. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon boasts lowest gas prices in B.C.

Gas going up, and down, throughout the North Okanagan

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

View of Larsson Hill from DriveBC camera at 7:25 a.m. on Oct. 21. (Contributed)
Vehicle incident at Larson Hill causing delays up to one hour on Coquihalla

The incident has blocked traffic in both directions

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

A 20-year-old man was pronounced dead following a three vehicle collision on Highway 1 west of Revelstoke Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (File photo)
One dead after Highway 1 crash near Revelstoke

20-year-old man pronounced dead at the scene of a three vehicle collision west of Revelstoke

Steven Stuart Gardner has been charged with possession of a firearm contrary to an order and possession of a firearm without a licence. He has also been charged, under the Motor Vehicle Act, with driving while prohibited. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Car connected to shooting, dumped in Chase leads to unrelated arrest

Investigation of Kamloops shooting leads police to a rural Chase property

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

Most Read